Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rivertown Revival

the gorgeous and dashing Mr. Eccentric - i swoon!
 A couple of weekends ago Mr. E and i attended the Rivertown Revival in Petaluma. RR is a family-friendly, local festival which takes place on a slough in the middle of the city and river of Petaluma. On the surface it's similar to lots of festivals - live music at several stages, food, art boat races, crafts and art for sale. But the Rivertown Revival is exceedingly local and community oriented, it reflects the creativity of Petaluma in such a strong way that it would be impossible to mistake Rivertown Revival for any other festival in any other town.

at the Heebe Jeebe booth
 First, they have volunteer meetings a couple of months beforehand so people can help to set up the crafts booths for the kids(i saw dijeridoos and dreamcatchers), help with signage, etc. The kid's games are small and extra fun - they had a dunk tank where you could dunk your dad, for instance. All of the food vendors were from Petaluma, as were most of the craft and art vendors. In fact, we attend many of these festivals and at least 90% of the vendors were new to me. While i appreciate seeing old favorites at craft fairs, it was a real treat to see so many new faces!

One part that was a lot of fun for me was the way people dressed for the event. Many people 'made an effort', which added to the festive atmosphere. But i saw very few elaborate, expensive costumes. Instead, it looked like most folks took a look in their closet, ran down to the Goodwill, rolled up their pants and grabbed a pair of striped socks. No big competition about who has the most expensive, historically accurate duds like you can see happening at Renaissance or Dicken's Faires. The motto here? Just get in the mood and have some fun!

When we arrived, around noon, the temperature on the local bank's sign was 100F. Fortunately the river brought in cooling winds and by late afternoon the temperature had fallen to the mid '80's. Still, sun protection was the order of the day - even guys sported parasols and hats.

I so admire the way this lady brought a vintage vibe to a very modern shape and palette - black and grey. Rompers were very popular with all ages of ladies. The tattooed lady towards the top of this post told me that the year before she'd worn a corset, bustle, long skirts - "The whole deal!". But she was so hot she decided on a romper this year and was very happy she did! She looked amazing - she wore deep violet fake eyelashes as well.

Guys got into the spirit just as much as the gals.  These two embody the vibe of the day - use what's at hand, toss on a fancy piece or two and it's all in how you wear it. I couldn't help but notice how pushing up your sleeves, rolling up your pants, combining pieces you generally wouldn't (because they're all kind of old-fashioned-y) creates such an effect.

It brought home to me that, scrumptious as individual pieces can be, what other people see us wear is outfits. Put some thought and creativity into what items you choose to wear together, and how you wear them, to make sure everything is working towards your intended effect.

What type of festivals do they have in your area, and do people dress up at all? I loved the way this festival allowed such leeway in dress, you could have fun with the vintage/old-timey vibe while at the same time using a lot from our current style palette. At some historical faires i've gotten some very disapproving looks when i dressed in the 'wrong' decade, or wasn't 'accurate' enough. It can be intimidating and kind of wrecks the fun mood. This place felt much more fun and lighthearted.

Next up - more Rivertown Revival pictures with even more stripes.


  1. What fun! Mr. E looks positively dashing! (as befits your title, Ms. Dashing E).

    We don't have any fairs like that here - I would go if they did! We do have an agricultural fair that I like to attend, but that's a whole different type of thing.

    You've pinpointed one of the things I don't like about Renaissance Faires: people really get hung up on accuracy. I just want to have fun, so that's why I like steampunk so much - it's pretty much whatever you want to do, no judgement.

  2. Our big one is the Mathew Street Music Festival, which is primarily focused on the Beatles and the whole Merseybeat scene. Then there are various smaller to-dos over the course of the year, but Mathew Street is sort of the monster that closes the summer.

  3. This event does look like such relaxed fun, and Mr E is indeed Dashing! Thanks for sharing these pictures with us : >

  4. What good homemade fun! Looking forward to seeing more. The mister just can't help looking suave wherever he goes.

    Nothing like that here that I'm aware of but we only recently got a car after a good half dozen years without one and, alas, hubby, the bicycle sprinter, just got diagnosed with heart problems. So what could have been a good time for exploring... I did love Fontana Days where I grew up. No fancy dress but a gritty good time with a carnival atmosphere and exotic eats on offer that seemed like road kill.

  5. I have vended at many arts and craft and wine festivals in the VA,MD,WVA,NY,PA,NJ area. Mostly the venders don't dress up unless it is a requirement by the event. I wish they would because often I try to elevate my look and not wear cut off jeans and a T shirt.
    Sometimes they combine the festival with a re-enactment event so they have people in period correct attire walking around in persona of the day. These advents are the most fun for me. The high humidity in this area can make vending and attending an event most uncomfortable so most people get as 'naked' as is respectable when they attend.

  6. I am putting this in favorites so maybe we can check out the RR next year. we go to Petaluma often (Mystic is great for music venue) and if I could, I would even move there!

    I am inspired by this dress up concept of getting in the spirit without the full on costume. Hubby and I attend a high desert music event each September and two nights have "themes". Some people go all out with costumes but I have not the time or creative talent to do it so this modification of "embrace the spirit" speaks to me.
    This years theme is confusing:
    One night is cowboys vs. alien (space cowboy maybe?)
    The other is Superheros vs monsters.

    As always, I appreciate your photography and thoughts!

  7. Hi Sheila! yes, he does :) thankfully i think he is starting to relax a bit when getting his pic taken - he doesn't like the process, but it's a shame to not get a record of his great looks!

    agricultural fairs are fun and interesting, my mom especially is a big fan. And i do respect the effort, research and attention to detail of the recreators. But not everyone has the time, money, or desire to go all the way like that. Especially if you're an attendee, not an actor or otherwise required to dress the part, it's kind of ridiculous for anyone to give you the stink eye (as has happened to me once or twice!).

    oooh, Ana, i can't wait to tell my husband about this!!!! he is a BIG music person, and while he's not a Beatles-worshipper he respects them very much and will be tickled to hear about this! He has plotted on and off to get over to that UK festival that Fairport (i think?) started, i'm sure he'd love to attend yours! :)

    Hello Patti! thank you - it was a really nice change from the typical fest.

    Hello Vildy!! oh, 'suave' - nice :) Please give my best to your husband, i hope he feels better very soon! And i hope you get to have some fun or other in that car anyways.

    "....exotic eats on offer that seemed like road kill." (very big eyes) that reminds me more of the County Fair midway - that gritty, scary, almost dangerous feel. Fun! RR is very wholesome.

    Wow Adrienne i had no idea you were such a traveler on the arts and crafts fair circuit! i can imagine you must have plenty of stories. It seems like a fun way to get to see a bunch of the country - you're not just on the regular tourist rounds, and there's more of an opportunity to talk to regular folks who live in the place.

    yeah, i can see your point about the pretty darn casual looks some of the vendors sport. But, as you say, it can get very warm - at the Walnut Creek Art and Wine fest it regularly gets into the 90's or more (when there's not torrential rains). It's stifling in the tents. " most people get as 'naked' as is respectable..." heehee, the WCAW is known for attendees not respecting that 'respectable' line you talk about! :)

    Hi Christianne! i've eaten at the Mystic (once) but so far we've never attended a show. usually we end up at Old Chicago Pizza if we're in Petaluma and feel hungry - yum! I can see the attraction to living there - close to Pt. Reyes, Napa and Sonoma, Sf and the east bay aren't too far....and the community in town is very vibrant. If we both make it to the RR next year and you see me, come say hi! (i'm face-blind, so if you don't feel like talking to me i'll be none the wiser:)

    Those themes are perplexing...unless everyone is part of a couple so both take one? no help here. Thank you very much!

    Hapy Day all! steph

  8. We have an annual River Festival, but I don't attend any more. It used to be fun, but now it is too commercial. They used to have antique bathtub races and bed races but those were canceled. It looks like you have a wonderful festival!

  9. This looks like so much fun! Everyone looks great and like they're having a good time.

    We have a Dickens of a Christmas that my grandmother sells sugar plums at every year. I dressed up once or twice when I helped out. I got a fairly nice response. Most people don't dress up for that though because most of the costumed people are Characters. There was a group of young kids/teens who dressed up as street urchin who came a few years. They were a hoot!

    There's also a local festival in the town square where I live. It's mostly a generic "fair" with live music, food, and art/jewelry vendors. No theme. I'm planning on running a booth at that, and I will probably dress up as much as I can for the occasion.

  10. Mr. D.E. is quite the hottie - thanks for sharing the pic! The festival looks like a blast. Dressing up is so much fun, but we don't have many opportunities in this area, other than Halloween. There is a Renaissance Faire about an hour away in the fall, but it's not as easy to mine a modern day closet for that.

  11. Hi Debbi! that's a shame about your festival, and i've always wanted to see a bathtub race :( that's why we need to appreciate our festivals while they're still good!

    Hi Megan! that Dickens of an Xmas sounds like lots of fun. I always admire the Characters or actors at these types of events, but like you i wish more people would dress up a bit and get into the spirit. Like those street urchins - just really creative and it doesn't take a ton of cash.

    oh, best of luck at your upcoming booth! I can't wait to see your look for the occasion, and i'm sure you know that dressing up can draw the right kind of attention to your wares. Plus, you'll pry feel more like 'you', anyways! :)

    heehee Lynne i'll be sure to show him your comment! That's too bad you don't have as many 'dress up' opportunities in your area. Here in the SF Bay Area it's dress up days galore! Sometimes i wonder if all of the people who like to dress flamboyantly leave their home towns and move here - so it's party every day here, but all those towns lose their home-grown 'characters'. eh, it's a theory ;)

    Ren Faires are fun, but often you have to travel a ways, it can get super hot, and like you say it's hard to get in the spirit without investing (buying, making, something) a costume in the strict sense. I think they are better suited to times when the hoi polloi has more 'fun money' than now.

    Happy Monday! steph